Friday, June 9, 2017

Phantoms Over Havana, Fight #6


So it's 1815 on 2 Feb 1990, and CLA aircraft are performing their last sortie of the day.  The Combat Air Patrol is looking for a fight, and things haven't been going so well.  Earlier in the day, Boxcar flight lost an aircraft without hurting the enemy, and then Bruiser fight traded planes with the enemy (1 to 1).  Blackjack 01, 02, and 03 have been loitering just off the coast of Cuba when the call goes out that two Castro regime MiG-21s have been spotted. 

Overview, north is up, with Blackjack flight at left and the enemy MiGs at right.  The opposing flights are directly opposite one another and on a collision course, though neither has spotted the other yet.  I'm using the relatively new set, "Lacquered Coffins," modified slightly.  The airplanes are 1/600; the CLA flight consists of F-4 Phantoms from PicoArmor, the Castro flight consists of MiG-21s from Tumbling Dice

Blackjack 01, 02, and 03 are at speed 5, altitude 4, heading west to the sound of the guns.

The Castro-regime aircraft are high and fast, speed 6, altitude 6.

As with the last two fights, I took the opportunity to show the  'mandatory move.'  At the beginning of each turn, each aircraft is required to travel their speed, straight and level, and then when they activate they may maneuver.  I think it's kind of a nifty mechanic, throws some stuff in the game, and doesn't let aircraft just 'hang there,' feels like they're actually flying (to me, at least).  I won't show the mandatory move anymore, but know that it occurs as the first action of each new turn.

From here on out you will only see the fighters maneuvering and attempting to spot enemy aircraft.  Time to fight!

Things are immediately going the CLA's way: Blackjack 01 pushes straight ahead and spots the enemy MiGs.  Tally Ho!  Blackjack 02 and 03 both drop down and pickup speed (6/2), hoping to make it harder for the MiGs (which are at altitude 6) to spot them amongst the ground clutter.  Blackjack 02 turns left and 03 turns right, looking to pull of a double envelopment.  Red 02 pushes forward, oblivious, while Red 01 moves up and spots Blackjack 02, calling out the bogey to his wingman.

Blackjack 03 continues burning it in, dropping down to 6/1, then hooks left, while Red 01 holds straight and level at 6/6, looking to loop behind Blackjack 02, whom, by his attitude, Red 01 believes is unaware of the Castro-regime presence.

When suddenly another CLA aircraft appears!  Blackjack 01 performs a positive climb, using his rudder to come slight right, then launches a missile.  "Holy @#$%!!!"  Red 01 is immediately alerted to the missile launch, and makes visual as it comes in, head on.  He shakes and jukes his aircraft...

But the CLA missile finds its target!  The MiG tumbles to the earth, taking its pilot with it.  Red 02 thinks to himself, "uhh, I think there's another aircraft out there."  Red 02 spots Blackjack 01.

Red 02 immediately changes focus: he darts straight in and launches his own missile.  Despite being aware of Red 02's presence, Blackjack 01 gets caught flat-footed, admiring his handiwork on Red 01.  The enemy missile somehow misses Blackjack 01, despite his inability to perform evasive maneuvers...

Then I apparently lost track of things and helped the bad guys out again: Blackjack 03 is so far unspotted, but somehow I let Red 02 bust a hard left turn, line up a shot, and fire on him, while dropping to 2/3.  Blackjack 03 spots the launch and jukes, but the missile damages his aircraft.

Blackjack 02, looking to help his damaged buddy, rolls in and fires a really bad deflection shot; Red 02 goes evasive and the missile sails by harmlessly, but it helped break his concentration I suppose ;)

Blackjack 03, damaged, heads straight and level at 3/3, looking to nurse his bird to safety, while Blackjack 01 cuts hard right, bleeding speed to 1/3.

Where he's immediately able to charge in and go to guns on Red 02!  The Communist pilot tries to juke, but his MiG takes several rounds to the fuselage, damaging it.

Blackjack 03 continues his turn, heading for the exit.  Red 02 turns into Blackjack 01...

And returns fire, but his damaged MiG is bouncing all over the place and he can't get the shot lined up properly, so Blackjack 01 is able to dodge his stream of tracers.

Blackjack 02 comes roaring in, but he's really on a bad angle.  He throttles back, hoping to slide in behind the damaged MiG.

Blackjack 03 keeps pulling left for home, while Blackjack 01 picks up speed and altitude (3/3) in order to reverse course.  Red 02 continues straight, picking up speed and altitude (2/2), while Blackjack 02 starts to move in behind Red 02, but he's caught in Blackjack 01's jetwash!  He's able to recover, but he bungs the maneuver.

Blackjack 01's patience pays off; he'd previously powered up and shot past Red 02, and now he performs a wingover, reversing course and getting into beautiful position behind the Communist...

But then Blackjack 02 steals his glory!  The aggressive CLA pilot cuts hard left and goes to guns...

Blackjack 02 shoots the MiG to pieces as its pilot ejects to safety, gently landing in the jungle below.

Well, there we go, finally, a resounding victory on Day 2!  Two enemy birds down, one CLA F-4 damaged but able to return to base.  These fights have been a lot of fun, going quick and dirty, lots of maneuvering and pretty damn decisive.  My only problem with the games so far is the fact so many pilots have ended up KIA, but that's not the rules, just my poor die-rolling.  The tally through two days  of war is now:

CLA Kills: 12
Castro Regime Kills: 7

So, not exactly 'Top Gun' yet, but we're getting there.  Actually, I don't want to get there, kills ratios of 10 to 1 don't seem like much fun.  But these games have been fantastic, and now it's time to get to Day 3.  Speaking of, the squadron roster is getting a bit thin, going to have to start mixing and matching callsigns in order to field whole flights.  The CLA started the war with twelve pilots and twelve planes devoted to the air superiority mission; six planes have been lost, and so every fighter lost means a fighter having to be pulled from interdiction/close air support missions.  But that's not the problem; the problem is, the fighter-bomber pilots, while still flying F-4 Phantoms, are not the cream of the crop, so, so far at least, the CLA is using only pilots from the fighter squadron to fly air superiority missions.

So while they've lost six planes, which can be replaced, pilots are the issue.  So far three pilots have been killed in action, one wounded in action (and not yet returned to duty), and three have been shot down over Cuba.  And while they've all been picked up by friendly forces (thanks to the outstanding gains by CLA ground forces in and around Havana), only one has been returned to flight duty (so far, and the one that has is flying in the next fight).  So, the fighter squadron has exactly six planes and six pilots at the beginning of Day 3. 

Next fight coming right up.



  1. Epic, love it. Reading your posts has given me the bug. A bunch of Tumbling Dice place are winging their way down south as a result. Great write up. There's a Pulp adventure waiting in that MiG pilot parachuting into the jungle!

    1. Os,

      Thanks man, I appreciate it, and can't wait to see what you get up to with your Tumbling Dice aircraft. That's a cool idea about the pilot getting shot down, but the MiGs are the bad guys! No worries, I've had a few Phantoms shot down as well ;) The other issue it, I kind of had to go back in time for this campaign. That is, I played the ground portion of this a few years ago, only now catching up the air side.

      Hey, I've seen you commenting on TMP and I appreciate it, but I'm unable to reply as the editor kicked me off the site... So Steve (Wolfhag) has been nice enough to help me out by posting my batreps there for me.

      In any case, thanks for posting, and I just signed up to follow your blog, I've got some reading to catch up on, looks cool!


  2. Thanks Jack - hey, why bother doing things in order - that's overrated! I'm forever trying to plan games on auspicious dates (anniversaries of battles etc.) and not getting around to them until months/years later. The lacquered coffins adaption you are using looks like it works well. I'm currently looking at Phantom and possibly Wings at War - 'cause I like the look of the Flames above the Falklands rules. Wolfhag posting for you totally confused me - easily done. Thanks for following my blog - infrequently updated but having a rare bit of activity at the moment. Cheers Alan

    1. No problem! Regarding doing things in order: I'd love to, but more I just operate off of what's got me inspired at the moment. Lacquered Coffins is really doing it for me, though I have the Thud Ridge rules by Tumbling Dice and they look pretty cool, too.

      Sorry about the confusion with Wolfhag; like I said, he's a saint, really helping me out. And here's to hoping you're inspired to give us a lot more stuff to read on your blog, I'm digging it.


  3. Fantastic ! ... a whole new level of awesome here !

    1. Thanks Jimmi! I need to get back in and finish off Cuba's War of Liberation (from the air).